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HOLLYWOOD PROJECT: JOAN CRAWFORD

“I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.”

-Joan Crawford

A true movie star- Joan Crawford lived a life of drama on and off screen. The strongest of cocktails- she’s sweet and bitter, going down easy, but with a burn. Joan’s on screen presence is startling, her commitment to the drama of being an actress is unrelenting. Her features are large and exaggerated and later in life would become somewhat garish. In 1952’s Sudden Fear, there is a scene in which Joan listens to an incriminating message in silence. Here eyes widen, well up and tears fall. She paces about the room in fear, sadness, and disbelief- it is mesmerizing to watch. You feel that just under the surface there is a true madness in Joan- a raw energy that is threatening to explode. Researching the photographer George Hurrell for this project, I came to find that Joan was something of a muse to him. She and Hurrell had 33 sessions together over 16 years- mostly for specific films, but many of them were for the fun of it. Joan would stroll over to the MGM gallery where Hurrell photographed all the MGM stars and say  “don’t you like this dress?” and he would shoot with her because she enjoyed being the production. Joan also had a sense that the images would be beneficial to her career and today, Hurrell’s images of Joan in the 30s are some of the most iconic portraits of the actress. The woman in the photo is Melody Madarasz.